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Archive for Monday, September 28, 2009

Joe-College.com ordered to pay Kansas Athletics more than $660,000

Judge orders business to cover KU Athletics’ attorney fees, expenses

Larry Sinks, owner of JoeCollege.com, is pictured in front of his store Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008. Sinks has been in and out of the news because of his legal battles with Kansas University over licensing issues involving his t-shirts.

Larry Sinks, owner of JoeCollege.com, is pictured in front of his store Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008. Sinks has been in and out of the news because of his legal battles with Kansas University over licensing issues involving his t-shirts.

September 28, 2009

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Local business mulling legal options

JoeCollege.com is mulling over its legal options after being ordered to pay about two-thirds of a million dollars to Kansas University. The business has 10 to 30 days to act, depending on what action it plans to take. Enlarge video

Joe-College.com ordered to pay Kansas Athletics more than $660,000

The owners of Joe-College.com must pay Kansas Athletics Inc. $667,507 in attorneys fees and expenses generated during a court case over the content of loosely — and perhaps not-so-loosely — KU-themed T-shirts, a federal judge ruled Monday. Enlarge video

Related document

Joe-College.com suit Attachment A ( .PDF )

The owners of Joe-College.com must pay Kansas Athletics Inc. $667,507 in attorney fees and expenses generated during a court case over the content of loosely — and perhaps not-so-loosely — KU-themed T-shirts, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Larry Sinks, Clark Orth and Victory Sportswear LLC, collectively known as Joe-College.com, must cover Kansas Athletics’ costs for the case they’d brought against the T-shirt business, which had conducted “trademark infringement” that “was willful and deliberate,” U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ruled.

“Accordingly, the case is ‘exceptional’ under the Lanham Act and plaintiffs are entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees,” Robinson said in her ruling.

Sinks, contacted a few minutes after he’d learned of the ruling, said that he was “numb” and uncertain about what effect the decision would have on him or his business.

The original court case left him responsible for paying $127,000 in penalties, for selling shirts that jurors said could be confused with official KU-licensed merchandise. The order to cover fees and expenses adds another $667,507 to that.

“I got that part loud and clear,” Sinks said. “I just don’t know what it means for me. I don’t know the appeals process. I simply don’t know what it means. …

“I don’t have it (the money), I can tell you that.”

Kansas Athletics earns about $2 million a year in licensing revenues, received through the sale of products that contain Jayhawks, KU logos, Kansas team names and other related items, said Jim Marchiony, associate athletics director.

Businesses that sell licensed KU products “do it the right way,” Marchiony said, while those that don’t are engaging in unfair competition.

“I think the jury and the judge have sent a strong message that you cannot willfully infringe upon someone’s marks without paying a steep price,” Marchiony said.

Licensing revenue is used to finance student scholarships, “and the majority of those students are not athletes, by the way,” Marchiony said.

KU continues to appeal the jury’s original verdict, which found that 53 of the 206 Joe-College T-shirt designs in question had indeed infringed upon or diluted KU’s trademarks.

“We did not want to go to court,” Marchiony said about the original case. “This is not something that we wanted to do. We communicated several times with him about this before it went to trial, so he had many opportunities and many options to avoid the situation in which we find ourselves now.”

Sinks has sought to reduce the penalties imposed by the original jury verdict in July 2008. Now he’ll weigh how to deal with the ruling that he must pay his opponents’ legal fees, too.

“I really don’t know,” Sinks said. “I just don’t know.”

Comments

Graczyk 5 years, 2 months ago

KU only hates Joe College because their shirts are so popular.

BabyBear 5 years, 2 months ago

looks like all you need to win a court case is to give the HEAD federal kansas judge court side tickets to all the basketball games, right next to lew perkins! once you do that you will win every court battle you come up against. the next game I go to I'll ask lew to see how much it costs to win a murder case... cause he is KILLING this town.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

$666,000 an hour? At $200 an hour, that's one lawyer working full time for nearly 2 years exclusively on this case. Sorry, but this case didn't require any sort of rocket science. KU's legal team (and Judge Robinson) obviously uses new math when figuring its billable hours.

Phillbert 5 years, 2 months ago

Here we go again - another comment thread about how Big Bad Lew is cracking down on Poor 'ol Larry, whose only crime was to deliberately violate federal law.

Larry Sinks sold t-shirts that a JURY found to be deliberately violating trademarks. If he'd made fake McDonald's or Coke shirts, he'd be in the same situation.

And give me a break on this "I can't say Jayhawk" ridiculousness. You can say it, write it, even carve it on your forehead if you want. What you can't do is go out and sell merchandise that deliberately uses someone else's trademark. That is a basic protection of property that enables the free market to work.

But to some commenters, facts don't matter. So let the attacks on KU and the claims that "I'll never buy KU products again" start...

labmonkey 5 years, 2 months ago

Time to make a trip to Lawrence to buy another joecollege t-shirt.

BabyBear 5 years, 2 months ago

Phillbert, All my kids, all my friends, and I love that store and buy those shirts all the time, none of them have Jayhawks or "KU" printed on them. So where is the violation?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 2 months ago

I think Sinks was incredibly stupid in his willingness to infringe on KU trademarks, although I must say I can't agree with the jury on many of the items that they found to be in violation.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 5 years, 2 months ago

Sinks knew better. He gambled. He lost.

"he was “numb” and uncertain about what effect the ruling would have on him or his business"

I'm certain: you are out of business.

mom_of_three 5 years, 2 months ago

I have never went to Joe College, and I don't intend to. I also refuse to let my kids shop there. Some of the shirts are clever, but others are in poor taste.
And you can tell many of the shirts infringe on KU trademarks, whether it be Kansas, KU, Jayhawk, whatever it is.
When the case was in the paper, and you could see the shirts in question, you could tell they easily violate, but then wonder why others didn't.

Phillbert 5 years, 2 months ago

beobachter - I don't remember how long this has been going on, but it has been years. Discovery, motions, the trial, now the appeals - it all adds up.

BabyBear - They used to sell those shirts. Then they got sued and lost.

MyName 5 years, 2 months ago

Well I guess we all know which business you need to be in if you want to make a decent living, and unfortunately, it isn't T-Shirts...

BabyBear 5 years, 2 months ago

As long as my kids stay out of fights, I'll let them wear the joecollege shirts proudly.

KS 5 years, 2 months ago

This judge needs to be removed from the bench. She goofed up the David Whittig case too. Lew and KU are so greedy. I will support joecollege.com.

beachbumin 5 years, 2 months ago

Is this the same Judge Julie Robinson that is a KU grad and a Senior Governor on the KU Law Alumni Board of Governers? If so, how in the world could she rule on this case?

del888 5 years, 2 months ago

maybe tuition will go down! - or Lew will get a new car.

shorttrees 5 years, 2 months ago

Maybe Larry can print up some special shirts for people to buy and help pay off this exorbitant amount. Something like "I bought this T-shirt to pay off Joe College's fines". I'd buy one.

corduroypants 5 years, 2 months ago

Phillbert is exactly right. Well said.

And let's not forget the companies that play by the rules and actually get the NCAA license (Gear for Sports, Step Ahead, etc.) His knockoffs were taking money out of their pockets as well. He's getting what he deserves.

beachbumin 5 years, 2 months ago

Somebody suggested a Luck Few shirt. That would probably sell enough to pay all of the fine!

Venkman 5 years, 2 months ago

It's easy to label Big Lew and KU Athletics as the bullies in this situation, but Sinks is the real bully. Sinks has known this was coming from day one. He's been in the business long enough to know what he was doing is wrong. He's getting what he deserves in this case.

For all the licensed retailers out there---the people doing things the RIGHT way---we appreciate KU's efforts in backing us and punishing slimy Sinks.

BabyBear 5 years, 2 months ago

Conflict of interest - throw the case out! Julie A. Robinson Position: U.S. District Court judge, District of Kansas Education: Bachelor's degree in journalism from The University of Kansas; juris doctorate KU School of Law, 1981 Senior Governor on the KU Law Alumni Board of Governers

Brandi Simpson-Glover 5 years, 2 months ago

what BS! I know Larry and his wife-they are such good people. I agree w/ beachbumin, shorttrees, BabyBear, KS, graczyk, and edjayhawk!! Get rid of biased judges that sit next to Lew's greedy self at games and order KU to reimburse Larry for the crap they drug him thru! Lew Perkins is a very greedy man and is just mad he wasn't geting a cut from Joecollege. Fight em Larry and WIN!!

svenway_park 5 years, 2 months ago

So, KU spent $550,000 dollars in their efforts to run this guy out of business? I would love to see an itemization of this.

Enough about the judge. What about the University?

Steve Jacob 5 years, 2 months ago

I think the law is pretty clear, if you lose a civil case, you might be on the hook for the winners lawyer fees. I think if Joe-College won, KU would have to do the same.

KU does come across as greedy is all of this, and maybe a good compromise would be to waive the judgment to close the store and website.

compmd 5 years, 2 months ago

Phillbert,

Perhaps you'd care to share with the class what monumental insight the jury must have had when they decided that the phrase "Our coach can eat your coach" violated trademarks held by KU Athletics. I don't recall all of the exact phrases which were declared infringing, but there were several that were completely asinine, and those found to be infringing were a fraction of the shirts sold.

This entire case has been about image. While trademark law requires that a rightsholder "vigorously" defend their marks, KU Athletics wanted blood on this one. They simply didn't like what Joe College's shirts said and didn't like the idea that someone with an IQ less than that of my left buttock might think that these shirts were somehow sponsored by KU.

I'm with Joe College, this whole thing was stupid. KU Athletics gets a paltry $137k (how many front row season basketball tickets is that?), the community risks losing a creative local business, the only people to truly come out ahead are the lawyers.

das 5 years, 2 months ago

Copyright law is the same for everyone...go talk to an artist or musician who has had to invoke it. Just because you might like the lewd and vulgar entity in question (talking about the shirts), doesn't make them exempt. This is one vacancy I'll personally be happy to see.

Randall Barnes 5 years, 2 months ago

K.U. IS JEALOUS ONLY IF THEY WOULD PRINT SHIRTS AS GOOD AS JOES. I LIKE THOSE SHIRTS MUCH BETTER THAN ANY THAT THE UNIVERSITY PUTS OUT.SO IF I WEAR A BLUE AND RED STRIPED SHIRT IN LAWRENCE THEN IM IN TROUBLE WHO ARE THEY GOING TO SUE FOR THAT ONE WALMART JCPENNYS TARGET, ECT............... YEA THEY ALL SELL RED AND BLUE STRIPED SHIRTS NEVER HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT THEM ????????????

das 5 years, 2 months ago

From NOLO Law Dictionary: Trademark Infringement (what we are specifically talking about here)- Unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark (or a substantially similar mark) on competing or related goods and services. The success of a lawsuit to stop the infringement turns on whether the defendant's use causes a likelihood of confusion in the average consumer. If a court determines that confusion is likely, the owner of the original mark can prevent the second user's use of the infringing mark and sometimes collect damages.(Compare: dilution)

JCworker 5 years, 2 months ago

The JC in my screen name stands for Joe-College. I would like to thank all the people who have been supporting us! All the people that come into this store to read and laugh, I hope to see you all in the near future.

Proud to be Joe-College.com fan and employee

gsxr600 5 years, 2 months ago

And to think Lew Perkins could pay this fine himself for 1yr worth of work and still have over $250K to blow.

Darwin 5 years, 2 months ago

As the shirts in question did not say KU or have the Jayhawk logo printed on them, I think this is alot of BS and Mr. Sinks is being charged wrongly.

But on the other hand, speaking from experience, Larry was a pretty arrogant a-hole in High School, so I don't have alot of sympathy for him.

Yep...it's always good to look at both sides of the issue.

Curtis Lange 5 years, 2 months ago

As others have said, this is really only an issue since Joe College's shirts are so popular. Joe College shirts easily outnumber 'officially licensed' shirts 3 to 1 in the student section at games.

Looks like I need to head down to Mass to pick up a new Joe College shirt since it's been awhile.

btw, labmonkey, you can order shirts off their website.

Graczyk 5 years, 2 months ago

I was wondering - would there be any protection for Joe College under the same laws that protect parody?

flux 5 years, 2 months ago

That is a real shame. Kansas Universitry is not the home of Lawrence, Ks. Lawrence Ks, is the home of Kansas University.....this is often over looked.

pylon25 5 years, 2 months ago

"How in the hell did any “reputable” law firm justify these charges?"

Kilpatrick Stockton (KU's primary counsel) is a pretty large Atlanta-based firm. The partners there bill in the $350-450/hr range, which is fairly low for big firm attorneys. Partners in large NYC/Chicago/DC/LA firms bill in the $700-1000/hr range.

Looks like the court decided that an appropriate rate was between $150/hr (junior associates) to $330/hr (Partners).

puddleglum 5 years, 2 months ago

luck few shirt... yeah, I would totally buy one!

brent flanders 5 years, 2 months ago

as a KU alum, I am appalled at KU's overreach in this case...the T-Shirts are awesome and certainly don't infringe on their ability to generate revenue.

torqued.

corduroypants 5 years, 2 months ago

"Joe College shirts easily outnumber 'officially licensed' shirts 3 to 1 in the student section at games."

So, how much money did KU lose by those students choosing an inferior knockoff product? How much was lost by official licensed vendors of KU apparel? And you still don't think that KU shouldn't defend their trademarks and trade dress? It's irrelevant if he's a good guy or an a-hole, he's infringing on KU's name and protected marks and he knows it.

Curtis Lange 5 years, 2 months ago

IMO, KU should be worrying about getting the track out of the stadium...not what shirts people are wearing to sporting events.

Sulla 5 years, 2 months ago

I don't know why so many are making Sinks out to be such a hero here. BOTH him and Perkins are jerks. I've known more than one person who worked at Midwest Graphics and everyone of them said that Sinks was one of the biggest A-holes they've encountered. He isn't the po' lil Abner being picked on by the Big Bully City Slickers in this situation.

LloydDobbler 5 years, 2 months ago

Sorry to hear this news...this puts a pretty serious damper on any entrepreneurial spirit in this town. If the guy had used KU, University of Kansas or Jayhawks on any of his shirts, I could understand it. But this is a guy who truly loves living here and supporting KU and they end up spitting all over him and leaving him and his family in financial ruin.

If I produce a blue shirt with "Wave the Wheat" printed in crimson with no direct reference to KU, will big Lew bring his slew of lawyers to my door? When the next fraternity/sorority has a shirt printed with anything vaguely referring to KU, will he bring his wrath upon them too? Whether you consider him a success or not, it's time to show big Lew the door.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 2 months ago

This Phillbert strikes me as a loose cannon. I wouldn't mess with him.

LloydDobbler 5 years, 2 months ago

Sulla - I don't think this is about Sinks' character, or Lew's for that matter. For all I know, maybe they are both a couple of butt heads. But by any standard, this is big guy vs. little guy legal over-reach at its worst and it can't do much for KU's reputation. I have lived here for a long time and the breeze blowing down from Mount Oread has become progressively cooler each year. At this point, it's pretty much all about the Benjamins.

hail2oldku 5 years, 2 months ago

"LloydDobbler (Anonymous) says… this is a guy who truly loves living here and supporting KU and they end up spitting all over him and leaving him and his family in financial ruin."

Larry loves Larry and money. He had plenty of opportunities to pay his licensing fee and settle this long before it went to court.

BTW, yes, if you were that dumb after this case, you would probably be served with an order requiring you to pay a fee and stop producing the shirts without permissions, Also, the greeks use licensed vendors who have already paid the fees necessary to use the references to the university so they don't have that problem.

LloydDobbler 5 years, 2 months ago

OK hail, show me the copyright or trademark on "Wave the Wheat" or "Our coach can eat your coach" for that matter. Again, the point is not about who's a jerk or character. It's about legal infringement...and this is clearly a reach. And the judge's background adds a little intrigue as well. If he wants to appeal, he's probably got a pretty valid case.

Tammie Bryant 5 years, 2 months ago

So, thousands of dollars that could be spent in Lawrence will now be sent to some high dollar out of state Law firm. Shame on KU.

So much for "Free Enterprise".

igby 5 years, 2 months ago

I can't see the new Joecollege shirts now!

Eat Me! ( Sasnak) ( SkwahyaJ) It's what's for Dinner!

rlmtyco 5 years, 2 months ago

very disappointed in KU by this. I love this stores shirts, its what downtown lawrence is all about, unique stores. Terrible. Shame on you KU

Reuben Turner 5 years, 2 months ago

well... "obedience is better than sacrifice", and seems to ring loud and clear in this case. pay up joker!!! and i ain't mad a Ku either!!!

heybluekc 5 years, 2 months ago

I have never purchased anything from Joe College some of it is clever, but I remember walking into the OU game in Norman last year with a fellow KU fan. His shirt said "you can take the panhandle and shove it up your $#$. Thats nice. But you know what all you Joe College lovers that is something even our hated MiZZou fans dont do. Add that to Rip his %^&^ head off. Thats classy too. Im embarrassed.

rellek 5 years, 2 months ago

We need to start a Joe College chant at the next football game.

Lee Eldridge 5 years, 2 months ago

Our business had to go through the CLC to become properly licensed. And we did. Why should Larry be able to skirt by and make money off of other people's legally protected property? KU has no choice but to protect their copyrights and registered trademarks. If you don't protect it, you lose it.

BrianR 5 years, 2 months ago

I wonder if this fight has been worth it for KU? I haven't donated a dime since this crap started. As long as they're beating up on this guy, my wallet is closed to them.

Dani Davey 5 years, 2 months ago

bozo - the $660k is attorneys fees and costs, which includes things like deposition costs (you have to pay the court reporter who types the whole thing) and any expert witness fees.

corduroypants 5 years, 2 months ago

"Who gives a hoot if it's not licensed."

Um...a court of law? KU? It's licensed vendors who play by the rules?

hail2oldku 5 years, 2 months ago

I get a kick out of you fools thinking it's big bad K U v. the little guy Larry Sinks and talking about how it's all about the money at the university. News Flash - it's all about the money for Larry as well. Instead of paying the licensing fee like all the other t-shirt people in town, Larry tried to skirt the boundaries and keep it all for himself. Unfortunately, he got caught and now it's poor old Larry just trying to make a living for himself and his family. Wake up and smell the coffee.

Matt Needham 5 years, 2 months ago

There seem to be plenty of stores in town who are legally and profitably selling KU merchandise. This guy chose not to be one of them.

Curtis Lange 5 years, 2 months ago

ironhorse66: You could be asking KU the same question...

BigAl 5 years, 2 months ago

Sinks willfully broke the law. Plain and simple. Phillbert's post at 6:43 is 100% accurate. Kansas Athletic Dept did exactly what they should do. They are protecting their property and protecting the people and businesses that play by the rules and follow the law.

heybluekc 5 years, 2 months ago

So im going to start me a business. Brown and yellow T shirts with something resembling arches.

Big Macs attack I got your quarter pounder Grease and Salt I can eat two Fillets.

Anyone think that will work?

oasis 5 years, 2 months ago

Can't believe the comments here. The Joe College shirts sold because they're cheap (sic). Why? The crook didn't pay the licensing fees. This was no mistake or oversight. It was willful violation of the law. Everyone else is playing by the rules and JC shouldn't be subject to them? No tear shed here. I also can't wait for the tasteless shirts to wear out and get thrown in the trash. Our coach can eat your coach? Grow up and pay up.

BigAl 5 years, 2 months ago

KUWeatherman. I do believe that Cole Aldrich is receiving thousands of dollars for an education, room and board. That may not seem like much to you but it sure does to me.

These laws were put in place for a reason. Sinks is cashing in on KU athletics. Ask Sinks how much of the scholorship money is he paying for the athletes. Ask Sinks how much of the money is he giving back to the Marching Jayhawks.

Licensed products support the athletes, the general students and the Marching Jayhawks. Sinks contributes nothing.

Eride 5 years, 2 months ago

To maintain a trademark you have to defend it or it is diminished to the point it terminates. KU doesn't have a choice but to defend against having its trademark infringed. As much as you may like Joecollege they were infringing on the trademark and KU had to defend the trademark.

And before you start complaining about the fines assessed to Joecollege you should remember all of the opportunities that the owner had to settle this dispute prior to trial. It is his own fault.

tanaumaga 5 years, 2 months ago

another downtown establishment out of business...nice...what s#$% franchise can we bring in now? the shirts at j c by the way were crap anyhoo.

nekansan 5 years, 2 months ago

How can legal fees that are 33% of the annual revenue of the entire athletic departments licensing fees be deemed reasonable? It's a clear cut example of running up the fees to make an example out of JoeCollege. The original judgment found only about 25% subset of their designs infringing so why should he have any responsibility for the casework that KU did to peruse a case for items that were not infringing? Take 25% of the $660k and you have what seems like a more reasonable number for the scope of the case and what was actually found to be infringing.

ozzynbn 5 years, 2 months ago

Darwin (Anonymous) says…

But on the other hand, speaking from experience, Larry was a pretty arrogant a-hole in High School, so I don't have alot of sympathy for him.

I too, went to school with Larry. I prefer to think of him as "self assured".

Freestater456 5 years, 2 months ago

I am a K State fan born and raised in Lawrence so obviously I am not exactly partial to KU already, but this makes me hate KU more than I ever have. If Joe College goes out of business then it will be replace by a restaurant. Pretty soon downtown Lawrence is going to be all restaurants. I don't think anyone wants that.

ku_tailg8 5 years, 2 months ago

Why doesn't this guy try the same detour ticket scalpers use? Buy a pencil for $15 and get whatever shirt you want for free. That way he is giving away the shirt and not selling it.

Janet Lowther 5 years, 2 months ago

I can't say I ever saw anything in Joe College's window which I would have confused with official KU licensed designs.

Of course I never looked in the Joe College store 'cause most of what I noticed in their window was offensive. . .

Satirical 5 years, 2 months ago

Can I open a store called t-shirt store called Joe College, use the same sign and store design, and go into his store once a week and use the exact same phrases? Without paying a franchise, or any other fee, of course.

Oh wait, I would create the perception that I am affiliated with the Joe College on Mass St., and my store will benefit from goodwill he has created through hard work and other expenses. So I guess it would be wrong for me to get something for nothing....

But wait... I will be the little guy, just starting a business, so the Lawrence community should be sympathetic and forgive my illegal acts...right?

Satirical 5 years, 2 months ago

LOL, editing mistake:

"Can I open a t-shirt store called Joe College..."

Frightwig 5 years, 2 months ago

I support KU on this one. Sinks knew it was wrong but he kept doing it. Some people never learn. The "Cole 45" shirt in the photo perfectly illustrates his blatant disregard for trademarks. The people from Colt 45 probably wouldn't want to see their logo used for someone else's profit. Also, what percentage of that shirt's sale goes to Cole Aldrich? Probably not a penny.

Jimo 5 years, 2 months ago

"This judge needs to be removed from the bench."

We do not remove judges because we don't like their decisions but because they are unable (or unwilling) to follow the law. This ruling follows the law. If you want to introduce property anarchy then call your congressmen and ask for it; otherwise, hush.

"Some of the shirts are clever, but others are in poor taste."

Hence, (half) the reason for trademark law. Why should someone who owns a trademark, spending effort and time to build up its image and value, have all this tarnished by some thief trying to make a quick buck? What next? Jayhawk sex toys? Jayhawk terrorist action figures? Nazi Jayhawk comic books?

If Mr. Sinks wanted a cute mascot to put on t-shirts, I believe that when Pets.com went bankrupt they sold their most valuable asset, a sock puppet, for $125k. Sinks should have bought it (and then jealously sued anyone infringing his property rights).

cthulhu_4_president 5 years, 2 months ago

-Fact: A jury found the shirts to be in trademark violation. Not KU, not a judge, a jury. Posters postulations on trademark violation is completely irrelevant at this point. -Fact: If you lose a case like this, you may be responsible for the other party's legal fees. -Fact: Sinks had chances piled on chances to mitigate this situation from day 1 (which was something like 4 yrs ago?). There was no reason for this to even go to court if Sinks had sucked it up and paid the licensing fees that respectable business owners do. He chose instead to play the victimized-small-businessman card and now it blew up in his face. Boo hoo. -Fact: Sinks is not the small-town victimized businessman he is putting on for show. Maybe if he didn't live on the Alvamar course he'd have a little more of my sympathy, but probably not. If Joe-college goes under, Larry will be fine.

Bud Stagg 5 years, 2 months ago

If I were coach mangino, I'd be in Lew's office everyday until the "my coach can eat..." shirts were off the shelves. I find them to be a personal attack. I find many of the shirts like "muck" and the others to be offensive and classless and reflect poorly on our school. We are letting a bunch of drunk 18-22 year olds decide what our values should be.

I think KU made a request to stop with some shirts and Larry pissed them off as Larry can do. So they loaded for bear and went after him.

roggy 5 years, 2 months ago

Ditto Pywacket - very well said. Some poster above wrote how Larry loves Lawrence. Why do his cars have Texas license plates? I don't know the answer but have been curious. We can all choose whether to shop at Joe College or not. I actually think some of his shirts are cute - it doesn't change the fact that he tried to sell many, many shirts without proper licensing.

Jim Williamson 5 years, 2 months ago

Larry Sinks is no champion of free speech. He's not protecting "the little guy." My experience has been, anyone who says they're just looking out for the little guy is only looking out for himself.

Larry, you took your shot and you lost. You not only lost, you may have screwed up your entire life. How's that working out for you?

ohgeeze 5 years, 2 months ago

Take it to Judge Judy!!!! Last week she gave a guy the ole heave-ho for asking the other guy to pay for his legal fees.

I knew being sick last week and watching wonderfully trashy daytime tv would pay off :-)

sand_rat 5 years, 2 months ago

Is this the same Sinks that was a partner in the Dave Freeman case?

kansaswanker 5 years, 2 months ago

As a person who has mixed it up with KU legally, I can say that they are vicious. I don't believe for a second that attempts at settlement were anything but one-sided, they certainly weren't in my experience. I am sure that Sinks pushed any number of legal boundaries (hence the "willful" portion of the decision) , but I am confident that their end goal is to put him out of business. Even if he is smart enough to stay away from anything resembling the licensed text/font/emblems they will still find something. The most we can do is patronize his fab shop, in hopes that he can find a way to avoid or pay the fines while staying in business. Good luck Joe College and I'll try to pick up something ASAP.

Ray Miller 5 years, 2 months ago

Personally I'm glad that KU is cracking down on this guy. How dare he exploit unpaid student athletes for profit. Only huge universities with multi-million dollar endowments should be allowed to exploit unpaid student athletes for profit!

KUfan1997 5 years, 2 months ago

First of all, this guy shouldn't be allowed to use KU's branding in anyway. Branding is a huge part of any organization and should never be tampered with. This guys was sitting on the edge of controversy and knew it. Anyone who is ashamed of KU has no idea what branding is and should stop commenting. No company would allow this form of brand tampering. I guess our coach ate Joe-College.

DrMoody 5 years, 2 months ago

Seriously, why would you defend this clown? Larry Sinks is a thief, pure and simple. That entire store is a blatant copyright infringement, no matter what his printed signs say. I can't just slap a slightly altered logo on a t-shirt and sell it for profit and then reserve the right to be offended. And besides the fact, the shirts in the store were for classless morons, good riddance. I wish KU had gotten more from Sinks.

MrShades 5 years, 2 months ago

Larry is getting what he deserves. The fine maybe a little over the top, but it is well within the law. It was reported in this paper throughout this affair, that KU tried the nice way.That indeed Perkins and Marchiony tried to get Larry to pay the Licensing Fees, Even asked him nicely to stop selling the shirts, but Larry thought he was above that, and he thought that the popularity of his little business would protect him from a law he did not like, and and AD who would not buddy up to him like his old LHS teacher did. In fact those that know the whole story know that one of Larry's previous T-Shirt ventures actually did pay the fees, but Larry couldn't stand writting that check, so he went just inside the "gray area".At least that is what he thought. A jury of his peers thought otherwise, and a judge is inflicting a lawful punishment.

nineteen84 5 years, 2 months ago

Crap, guess I better wash my PUKE shirt one more time and then hide it until things calm down

pughawk 5 years, 2 months ago

First, everyone needs to realize that the judge does not decide whether Joe-college was infringing on KU's trademarks. The jury decided that it was. The judge's task is only to decide if Joe-college's infringement was willful, which it most clearly was. Federal law provides that the prevailing party may recoup its attorneys' fees if the trademark violation was willful. For a case involving 206 trademarks that went to jury trial, $660,000 is a reasonable amount. Joe-college probably spent close to that amount in defense costs, when he could easily have settled the case for far less.

The comments here are funny, though, if this was a local musician suing a music company for using his copyrighted material, no one here would object. It is only because it is KU asserting its legal rights that people have a problem. Trademark law does not differentiate between companies and individuals.

newmedia 5 years, 2 months ago

I'll bet that brought a little sunshine into the lives of some of the folks who had to visit with the boys about their deportment last week.

In the true spirit of capitalism Larry I suggest you offer them 5% of every tee shirt sold until the debt is paid or hell freezes over, which ever comes first, and then raise the price of your shirts 10%.. Sounds like a win/win to me.

TheOriginalCA 5 years, 2 months ago

Does the athletic department own the rights or does the University of Kansas own the rights? SO, KU ran up a bill of $660,000+ in order to be awarded $157,000 and the defendant has to pay that? How is that reasonable?

california 5 years, 2 months ago

Larry gets what Larry deserves. He is an idiot. Always has been, always will be. He should be numb. By the looks of his picture, this really has worn on him (and it is an old photo!). Larry, you gotta play by the rules. That includes licensing your vehicles in Kansas and not avoiding that tax either. Do you expect services from Lawrence police and fire deparments? Pay your taxes then. The city of Lawrence and state of Kansas could be coming at you next!

Stebbins 5 years, 2 months ago

Hell's bells. I guess we can't infringe on copyrights. Who would've known?

Danimal 5 years, 2 months ago

Here's what upsets me about this. KU has allowed businesses around town and other schools around the nation to use the jayhawk logo for years with no penalty. For them to viciously pursue a small business for years because they perceived that it's t-shirts could somehow damage or degrade the image of the University is reprehensible. I don't own any Joe College shirts, I think that most of them are tasteless and low-brow, but I think that the University's response amounts to little more than bullying at this point.

shepdog 5 years, 2 months ago

ISN'T SNOOPY THE ORIGINAL "JOE COLLEGE". DID LARRY GET PERMISSION FROM CHARLES SCHULTZ'S ESTATE TO USE THAT CHARACTER NAME???

Matt Warman 5 years, 2 months ago

I bleed crimson and blue, but I wish the school would leave this alone. I like the Joe College shirts. Yes, yes, I know the rules and know both points of view. Sweep it under the rug, like the fight club fiasco from last week. Both topics are getting old. Can't we all just get along...

hail2oldku 5 years, 2 months ago

"mjwgoku (Anonymous) says… I bleed crimson and blue, but I wish the school would leave this alone. I like the Joe College shirts. Yes, yes, I know the rules and know both points of view. Sweep it under the rug, like the fight club fiasco from last week. Both topics are getting old. Can't we all just get along…"

Larry is the one that kept this fight going. Either through arrogance, bad legal advice or both.

"Danimal (Anonymous) says… Here's what upsets me about this. KU has allowed businesses around town and other schools around the nation to use the jayhawk logo for years with no penalty. For them to viciously pursue a small business for years because they perceived that it's t-shirts could somehow damage or degrade the image of the University is reprehensible. I don't own any Joe College shirts, I think that most of them are tasteless and low-brow, but I think that the University's response amounts to little more than bullying at this point."

Many of these were grandfathered from prior to the Lanham Act and the amendments from 1996. I don't know for certain, but I would be willing to bet that anything since then the university has contacted the user and either collected a licensing fee of some kind or issued a cease order if they found it objectionable once they were aware that their trademark was being used in some format.

"Stebbins (Anonymous) says… Hell's bells. I guess we can't infringe on copyrights. Who would've known? "

Well played, but there is a royalty payment made for the use of that and all of the other songs played on the sound system during the game.

jedre 5 years, 2 months ago

NOTHING they sell uses any KU trademarked logo or KU official font.

"Kansas" is the name of the state, last I heard, and is public domain.

Their store is RIDDLED with signage saying that nothing is trademarked or endorsed by the University.

There's no infringement, plain and simple.

Appeal! There was an obvious conflict of interest on behalf of the judge.

And they outsell because the shirts are cheaper. Make the licensed product for sale without ridiculous licensing FEES, and I'll buy more. I'm sure all of that money goes directly to the student athletes, too.

jedre 5 years, 2 months ago

And I suppose you guys have never seen the "Muck Fichigan" shirts at Ohio State in the last 10 or more years?

jedre 5 years, 2 months ago

Does the Jayhawk Food mart still exist?

The Jayhawk Inn/Hotel?

cowboy 5 years, 2 months ago

the rules are very clear on collegiate products , this clown cheated them in his last venture Midwest Graphics and lost his license and then proceeded to do the same in his latest venture then ignored the court orders and all common sense. Quit your whining and try to make an honest living. Ku products are very lucrative and you don't have to cheat to make good money on them but if you're that greedy and dishonest to try and cheat the system you deserve what you have been dealt.

hail2oldku 5 years, 2 months ago

Don't quite your day job jedre cause you'll never make it as a lawyer (or even a copy editor since you can't read where those arguments have already been shot down.)

jedre 5 years, 2 months ago

that's just an outstanding rebuttal.

I'm not reading 100 replies. I do have a day job that I don't want to quite.

jedre 5 years, 2 months ago

In response to many -

there's a fair use right to parody. Otherwise, MAD magazine wouldn't exist, and many an SNL sketch would be illegal.

heybluekc 5 years, 2 months ago

nineteen84....

"you are going to wash your PUKE shirt. That says it all. Such class.

hail2oldku 5 years, 2 months ago

"jedre (Anonymous) says… I'm not reading 100 replies."

"jedre (Anonymous) says... In response to many -"

So are you going to read the replies or you just gonna go and spout off without knowing what you're talking about?

"jedre (Anonymous) says... there's a fair use right to parody."

You provided your answer already right here. Playing attorney and looking things up on google can be a tricky thing when you don't read the material closely. What you have written is not just one of the defenses of trademark infringement - parody, it is both of the defenses - fair use being the other.

At any rate, don't you think these were part of Larry's defense already?

At least you did catch the error I made in my previous post. And I'll be man enough to admit I screwed up and didn't proof read my own posting before hitting submit.

Jeanette Kekahbah 5 years, 2 months ago

Larry, I'm going to make sure to get my trade dress work to you.

Given the GLARING CONFLICT OF INTEREST, however, perhaps Robinson did LUCK FEW.

And I'll wear a LUCK FEW shirt in a heartbeat. Willing to print my own if I can't buy one from JOE.COLLEGE!!!

Has anyone come up with FUKU yet?

happyhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

  1. This was a jury verdict. The judge is not the trier of fact. It is for the jury to decide if the defendant violated the plaintiff's rights.
  2. It was incumbent upon the defense attorney to ask for the judge to recuse herself if he believed that there was a conflict of interest (which, under the legal definition, there was not).
  3. The defendant was a sophisticated businessman who had actual notice from the university that he was infringing on their copyright. He knows, or had reasonable knowledge, that he was violating the University's copyright.
  4. Despite the previous warnings and offers to settle by the university, Larry continued to sell his products.
  5. If all of you who are on Larry's side on this, please send me your names and I will be happy to do similar T-shirts with your names (which, by the way, would be actionable).

Bottom line, he knew what he was doing, he had warning to stop and save himself money, he chose not to. I don't feel bad for him.

badgerhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

The only proof you need that this is clearly a violation of a trademark is the popularity of the shirts. People buy them because they feel the shirts represent the University of Kansas. You buy the shirt...you wear it to a Jayhawks game. Clearly you see the shirts as a representation of KU. Why is this so hard to understand? Any of you who think KU is being unreasonable about this...create something...make something...a design, a logo, a work of art...then have someone else steal it, alter it in a way that is inconsistent with your mission or vision, sell it for less than it's worth, and make all sorts of money. You'd be angry too. The guy had many chances to be ethical about this situation. He passed. And now he pays.

BigPrune 5 years, 2 months ago

Looks like the real winners are the lawyers. Could the business just file bankruptcy and reopen as MoeCollege?

svenway_park 5 years, 2 months ago

Wal-Mart has unlicensed blue shirts that read KANSAS. Why doesn't KU go pick on them?

bad_dog 5 years, 2 months ago

"Some poster above wrote how Larry loves Lawrence. Why do his cars have Texas license plates?"

Unlike Kansas, there is no personal property tax in Texas.

Jim Williamson 5 years, 2 months ago

"So if I make a shirt that says Go KU with fabric paint from Hobby Lobby will I get sued? What would happen if every student went out tomorrow got a blue shirt from wal-mart and some fabric paint from Hobby Lobby and made there own cool shirt for the game Saturday? Would they all be in trouble? Probly not because they made it themselves and did not sell or buy it."

Issue one: nice spelling, sweetheart.

Issue two: the buying and selling is the rub here. Try and keep up.

"My suggestion is for everyone planning on going to the game or go out and do something for the game to make your own shirt this week and see what response that gets."

Yeah! That'll show 'em.

"Most people don't go out to the stores to buy the real KU stuff cause it's dumb to go buy a shirt for twenty bucks or more that might simply say KANSAS or something of this nature. Making your own or buying a Joe College one is way better. Not boring nor expensive is what all my friends and I think."

When you're old enough to vote, c'mon back, kitten. Sorry -- can I call you "kitten?"

Jim Williamson 5 years, 2 months ago

Help!!! I'm up to my neck in irony!!! I just read the story on the Freeman case!!! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ “I wasn’t comfortable with all the things that were going on,” Sinks said... “All I know is there were some wrongdoings going on and I wanted no part of it.”... “There were improper things going on that I didn’t believe in,” Sinks said Friday. “It’s not how I do business. … It just made me uncomfortable.” ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Larry Sinks: moral compass.

SLJC 5 years, 2 months ago

A long time ago, I ran into a very similar situation. I had just started a T-shirt company but was not licensed for printing KU related merchandise, and suddenly we made it to a Final 4.

I wanted to get in on the frenzy so I hired an artist to design an alternate Jayhawk. I did not use the words "Jayhawk", "KU", "Kansas", or "Final Four" (that's a separate license by the way). I knew I was treading on thin ice and when my shirt became the runaway bestseller that year I knew I would be hearing from KU.

Sure enough, a group showed up a couple of weeks later and were extremely polite and professional. They explained all the reasons why I needed to cease and desist; did not ask for any sort of punitive damages, and actually bought the rights to "my" Jayhawk.

I've known Sinks for a long time and I would say that the more derogatory adjectives used to describe some of his shirts also suit him to a T, so to speak. Don't worry about him, I'm sure he's been hiding cash for decades, will declare bankruptcy, not pay a dime, and come out of this unscathed.

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